The corona pandemic has required exceptional resilience from companies. In the future, market successes will be achieved by those who continue to digitalize, invest in responsibility throughout the supply chain, and think innovatively at the global level, sums up Nina Kopola, CEO of Business Finland.
Last year, there was an approximately 20 percent increase in applications for Business Finland's innovation subsidies when compared to the year before, excluding corona subsidies. The sharp rise reflects how the corona pandemic has plagued many different industries. Due to budget inadequacies, the need for support has not been met, says Nina Kopola, CEO of Business Finland.
“The corona crisis has shown that many companies are able to develop their business. Companies who operate on any kind of digital platform are better equipped to succeed in the pandemic. Fortunately, we have been able to distribute the corona aid, which has also worked as development support to approximately 20,000 companies, many of which have greatly benefitted from these subsidies.”
Kopola predicts that after the pandemic, companies will be increasingly required to innovate, become more responsible, and able to recover from crises. At the same time, she reminds us that the conditions for success go hand in hand.
“It is a strength for a company to be able to amaze and delight the customer. Innovation and responsibility are prerequisites for competitiveness, and they can also increase resilience.”
Sustainability as a global trump card
From the beginning of 2020, Business Finland presented its new 2025 strategy, which focuses on three cornerstones: the pursuit of economic growth, investments in a sustainable framework, and increasing competitiveness.
Kopola emphasizes that exports should also rise. Last year, the exports of Business Finland's customers generally increased, although at the country level exports fell by 11.9 percent. Kopola believes that in principle, Finnish companies should think internationally when innovating.
“Finland is a small market, so we have to start exporting quickly. However, we understand that for a small company, for example, it can be difficult to think about entering a foreign market so quickly. That is why we help companies to internationalize.”
Business Finland encourages companies to internationalize on a low threshold. Through Business Finland, the company can connect to our international network in the global market with information on market opportunities and local knowledge.
“In the future, exports will be increasingly both virtual and present. The weapons of digitalisation must be honed at a rapid pace now.”
Internationalization can also be supported by a good network base in the home country. Innovations, ideas, and expertise can be shared among these domestic companies.
“Cooperation brings strength, and Business Finland assists with creating networks. In the case of food production operators, for example, we have created the Food From Finland program, where we brought together meat and berry producers, to name a few. This coalition has helped the industry and contributed to an overall increase in food exports.”
The strength of Finnish companies in the global market is an example in sustainability. According to Kopola, the idea that responsibility is an essential consideration throughout the supply chain has already been greatly internalized in domestic companies.
“I maintain that sustainability work in Finnish companies is at a relatively high level. For example, if a joint venture is established in China, it must be ensured that its responsibility efforts strive at the same level as the parent company,” Kopola summarizes.
Digitization is emphasized in exports
For exports to start growing, Kopola believes that digitalization must continue. During the corona pandemic, the winning companies have been those that were already well versed in digitalization.
“In the future, exports will be increasingly both virtual and present. The weapons of digitalization must be honed at a rapid pace now. Of course, launching virtual exports can be demanding, and succeeding in your first virtual transaction can be challenging.”
Recovering from a pandemic brings excitement to exports.
“When the market finally opens up, the competition will be fierce,” Kopola estimates.
Therefore, the traditional starting point must also be kept in mind: the target market and the demand for the product must meet. In addition, you need to stand out from the competition.
“It must always be assumed that Finns have a supply of products that are really in demand. Differentiation at the domestic level is also important. Even Business Finland cannot grant support for the same issue time after time.”